Post Thu Sep 29, 2016 12:50 pm

Seeking Warmth as the World Grows Cold

The world had taken on a gray hue. Darkened clouds obscured the sun. Since the morn, the weather had taken a turn for the worse, playing as a stark contrast to the past few months in the Wildlands. Rain falls slowly and heavily down to the earth below, chilling everything unfortunate enough to be out in the open; it's not enough to be a downpour or to flood the rivers and lakes, but it's strong enough and cold enough to wither even the hardiest creature's mood. Gondowon, ill-garbed for the weather, trudges down the wet road toward the inn, seeking shelter from nature's solemn promise of the seasons to come.

The sage arrives at the inn, taking care to keep quiet as he enters. He's not sure why he's taking such pains to maintain a state of silence, but somehow he feels he must. After taking a moment to wipe off wayward droplets of water, Gondowon looks around the inn, slowly realizing the distinct lack of others there. The realization is jarring; though the absence of others at the inn is not necessarily an unusual occurrence -- there had been plenty of other times where he was the first to enter the inn -- it seems far more prominent to Gondowon on this day in particular. The sage begins stepping carefully, walking through the establishment in search of others in case his senses had deceived him. As he does plods around the room, he's once again victim to the strange thoughts he usually kept to himself, except on the rare occasions where he was inebriated. The walls around him had been built and re-built a number of times. Some parts, he recalled, he'd repaired himself. Is this even the same Inn? he wondered. So much has been replaced, and yet we consider it the same place we've always known. If a creature were to be taken apart and put back together enough times, would it still be the same creature?

The silence was starting to get to him, his thoughts becoming more prominent. He tried to shake them away and focus on something more productive, but he could not; his thoughts were getting louder as of late. There's always an Inn. A place to stay, to rest, to think, to find and meet people, to talk and laugh, to eat and drink, to protect, wreck, and rebuild. Everywhere I go, there's an Inn. Even if it's in another town, even if it has another name, there's always an Inn. Despite their many differences, they all serve the same function... they're essentially the same place. Could they be the same place? Could they be the same Inn, whether it's in Haven, the Wildlands, Ordona, Caldonia, Sylven'Dar or... wherever else an Inn could be? Could it not be the same Inn, occupying many places all at once, occupying the same idea, so that, no matter what, there's a place to call home for everyone? If I were to leave Phanterra... would there not be an Inn? Would-

Gondowon tripped on his own feet, scattering his thoughts to the wind. The sage blinked as he realized just how deep he'd been in thought. He looked around; no one was there to see his moment of clumsiness. He let out a long sigh and sat down, rubbing his temples to clear his head of the fog. He didn't know how much more of himself he could take. He felt he was slowly losing a grip on the world he was in, slowly losing track of that which mattered as his mind succumbed to a numbing darkness. Ever since Fringe left him, he'd been growing darker. They both have. Maybe it was like this for Fringe too, the sage thought. Maybe it just becomes easier to think than to feel, and then, eventually, just thinking and not feeling becomes... boring. Gondowon shuddered. He rarely empathized with the lich, but just now Gondowon felt like he'd had a moment of insight regarding Fringe's personality shift. In the past, Gondowon swore he'd never understand why Fringe would do the horrible things he did, how he could torment, torture, experiment on, and destroy innocent lives and gain enjoyment from it. Now, however, it seemed like things were becoming easier to see from Fringe's point of view. It seemed like everything was growing more and more...

"Gray," Gondowon muttered aloud. The word sat heavily in the air as the rain fell heavily against the windows.

For what felt like a long time, Gondowon sat alone at his table, not working, not thinking, not feeling. There was simply too much to process, too much to do for him to do any of it. The silence was too deafening. Dark thoughts lingered at the edge of his mind as he pondered what extreme measures he could take to entertain himself.

He stood up. He took one last look around the Inn. This time, his eyes settled on the instrument in the corner: the piano. Moving automatically, Gondowon walked toward it. As he stood apprehensively next to the old instrument, which seemed more like a furniture piece than a means of entertainment, he gently brushed his fingers over the keys. He pressed one, letting the sound linger in the air. He knew which note he played, but not the name of it. He felt it more than heard. It didn't matter what note it was. It was a break in the silence.

Gondowon sat down at the bench in front of the piano, flicking his fingers as he readied himself, as he'd seen so many other, better performers do. He wasn't sure where he'd picked up the talent to play such a rare instrument, one that was made in the times before the Cataclysm and was almost never seen after. All he knew was that he'd taught himself to play some ago. Or did he? He didn't remember having a teacher, but he remembered learning the music. He hated when his mind muddled his memories.

The sage pressed down on another key, harder than before. Again, it didn't matter which one it was; all that mattered was that it broke the silence of the room and of his mind. Gondowon knew he wasn't particularly talented, but he appreciated the ability to play music regardless. At that moment, with that thought, he resolved himself to play, to quiet the stillness around him, to fill the emptiness of the Inn with something, anything.

He fumbled with the introduction, but pushed through despite his error. Soon, the all too familiar tune he'd learned who knows how long ago came to him, and he stopped thinking about the notes he was playing. He felt the music pulse through his body, guiding his fingers. He wasn't a talented performer, but he had a vague understanding of what it must feel like to master a song and perform it before a crowd. It thrilled him to feel something through his entire being. The music danced through the air, clumsily at times as Gondowon made mistakes, but it danced nonetheless, and Gondowon's heart danced with it.

The song came to an end, and silence rushed to fill in the absence of music once more. Gondowon let his hands fall to his lap. He found himself smiling a halfhearted smile. He chuckled at how quickly his emotions deadened once he stopped playing. Still, for the moment, he'd found solace in solitude.

----------

The world had taken on a gray hue. Darkened clouds obscured the sun. Since the morn, the weather had taken a turn for the worse, but the slowly falling rain was letting up, albeit little by little. Among the sound of raindrops striking leaves and dirt, the sound of metal clanging against metal can be heard coming from the Inn. As one nears the building, the sound of humming can be heard as well. Within, Gondowon, ill-garbed for crafting as usual, works to repair and reforge his golem armor. He's not smiling, but the tune he hums is cheerful. He has stoked the fire in the fireplace and is using it as a makeshift forge, heating pieces and tools as needed over the flame that's not nearly hot enough for the task at hand. Still, the sage seems unperturbed, working just as diligently as he would if he were at a blacksmith's.

Gondowon backs away from his work to inspect his armor. He grins broadly as he looks it over, proud of his hard work. His thoughts, prone to turning to dark places when he is alone, remain bright. He notes how the golem core seems to beat like a heart, how the clang of his hammer is a kind of music all its own, how it seems as though he can feel the soul of his armor as if it were his own, if his armor even had a soul, of course. He didn't care; this armor was alive, whether by dictionary definition or not. Gondowon gazed at the armor's face, looking it in the eye-holes as if there were someone still inside it.

"Talus," the sage says aloud. The armor doesn't respond, of course, but Gondowon doesn't care; instead, he simply smiles. "Your name is Talus."
"The road an adventurer walks has no destination, yet they reach places no one else can dream of reaching." - Gondowon Tedra Falbor